5 Perfect Vegetable Plants To Grow In A Cold Frame In The Winter

Frigid winter weather is just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep growing fresh vegetable plants in a cold frame!

Cold frames are an incredible way to extend the growing season. With their enclosed walls and sloped, see-through cover, they allow the sun to warm the soil just enough to germinate and grow crops. (See : How To Create A Simple Cold Frame)

But it’s selecting the right crops to grow in frames that is the true key to success. Unfortunately, with winter’s chill and minimal daylight, not every vegetable plant performs well through the winter.

growing in a cold frame
Crisp lettuce growing in a frame in early spring. Lettuce crops are among the best for growing in cold frames.

For instance, tomatoes & peppers, with their love of heat and humidity, are not ideal choices for cold frame growing. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a wide selection of crops that do work. And with that in mind, here are 5 perfect choices for growing this winter in your cold frame.

5 Perfect Vegetable Plants To Grow In A Cold Frame

#1 Salad Greens

Without a doubt, salad greens are among the easiest of all vegetable crops to grow in frames. Not only do they sprout and grow well in cool weather, they produce a harvest in quick fashion.

Want to grow fresh salads in the winter? You can with cold frames – and it is easier than you can ever imagine!

In fact, quickly enough, that with a single frame you can produce a continual harvest of salad greens that will keep a family of four supplied with fresh greens all winter long.

Sow seeds 1/8″ deep in the soil, spacing 1/4″ apart to maximize space in the frame. For best results, sow new rows in the frame every two weeks to keep a fresh supply coming on.

#2 Spinach

Spinach is another cool weather crop that thrives growing in cold frames. And like salad greens, it is a fast grower. Harvesting of tender baby spinach leaves can begin in as little as 21 days after planting.

growing vegetables in a cold frame - spinach
Spinach can be planted closer together in cold frames and harvested as baby greens. Their flavor actually improves when grown in cold frames.

Sow seeds 1/4″ deep in rich, fertile soil, spacing seeds an inch or so apart to maximize space in the cold frame. Since spinach is perfect for harvesting as young greens, spacing can be much closer than in a traditional garden setting.

Harvest as soon as leaves reach a few inches above the soil line. You should be able to get at least two to three cuttings from regrowth before having to replant.

#3 Radishes

Radishes are a fast seed-to-harvest, cool weather loving crop. Especially if you prefer the taste of tender baby radishes. Some varieties can be ready for picking just a month after going into the soil.

When growing in frames, sow radishes a 1/4″ deep in loose, fertile soil. Radishes will benefit greatly from fresh compost mixed into the soil prior to planting. It helps loosen the soil for strong root growth, and provides valuable nutrients.

radishes in cold weather
Radishes are a fast grower, and perform well when grown in the winter in cool weather.

#4 Kale

It’s hard to beat the health benefits of adding kale to your diet on a regular basis. Not only is it loaded with Vitamin C, it is also considered one of the best antioxidant vegetables around.

Like spinach, kale’s flavor actually improves with cool weather, so cold frame growing is a perfect fit. Plant seeds shallow at a depth around 1/8 – 1/4″, spacing them about an inch apart.

kale growing
Kale performs well in cool weather. In fact, it is one crop whose flavor actually improves with cooler temperatures.

#5 Baby Onions / Scalions

Nothing can be better in winter soups and roasts than the taste of fresh onion! Baby onions, green onions and scallions all perform well in a cold frame environment.

When growing in cold frames, Plant seeds or small bulbs 1/4″ deep in rich fertile soil. Once again, compost will help the bulbs form easily and provide extra nutrients for quick, strong growth.

So whether creating your own homemade version, or purchasing one of the many Cold Frame Kits on the market, here is to growing fresh vegetables this year in a cold frame – and having fresh produce beyond the spring, summer and fall!

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